Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Hugh Grant's birthday

September 9 is the 48th birthday of British actor Hugh Grant, and on this day I'd like to mention one of his light comedies, the improbably-titled The Englishman Who Went Up a Hill But Came Down a Mountain.

Set in Wales in 1917, the movie stars Grant as Reginald Anson, one of a pair of English surveyors sent by Her Majesty's Government to determine the elevation of a mountain in a small Welsh town. The being 1917, and Wales being an impoverished place, about the only thing around for them to have pride in is their mountain. They take bets on what Anson will calcuate the height of the mountain to be, and it turns out to be 980 feet. This presents a bit of a problem: accoring to government regulations, a mountain has to be at least 1000 feet above sea level, meaning that the town no longer has a mountain, but just a very big hill instead.

This horrifies the town's citizens, who come up with a startling idea: detain the surveyors in town so that they can't turn in their results to London, and use that time to move enough soil from elsewhere to the top of the mountain to make it 1000 feet tall, and have Anson and his partner re-measure it. Sure, it sounds silly, but it turns into a very pleasant little comedy that's got good enough sensibilities for us grown-ups. Naturally, there's the love interest for Grant, in the form of actress Tara Fitzgerald (seen above with Grant), but the rest of the town has interesting characters too. There's the shellshocked World War I veteran; the minister who's adamant about not working on the Sabbath; and the publican (whom Star Trek fans will recognize as Colm Meaney) who's consistently at odds with the good minister, and trying to keep Grant in town.

The Englishman Who Went Up a Hill But Came Down a Mountain isn't scheduled to show up on the cable movie channels any time soon, but it is available on DVD.

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